The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas

The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas

by Michael S. Gazzaniga

A provocative and fascinating look at new discoveries about the brain that challenge our ethicsThe rapid advance of scientific knowledge has raised ethical dilemmas that humankind has never before had to address.

Our ever-increasing knowledge of the workings of the human brain can guide us in the formation of new moral principles in the twenty-first century.

Gazzaniga presents the emerging social and ethical issues arising out of modern-day brain science and challenges the way we look at them.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Psychology
  • Rating: 3.72
  • Pages: 240
  • Publish Date: May 9th 2006 by Ecco
  • Isbn10: 0060884738
  • Isbn13: 9780060884734

Read the Book "The Ethical Brain: The Science of Our Moral Dilemmas" Online

The continuity argument is that a fertilized egg will go on to become a person and therefore deserves the rights of an individual, because it is unquestionably where a particular individuals life begins. Certain Jews and Muslims believe that the embryo deserves to be assigned the moral status of a human after forty days of development. This raises the potentiality argument, the view that since an embryo or fetus could become an adult, it must always be granted equivalent moral status to a postnatal human being. A fertilized embryo is not a humanit needs a uterus, and at least six months of gestation and development, growth and neuron formation, and cell duplication to become a human. P 12 - Intention Current policy on stem cell research is based on the attempt to weigh the value of potential human life (in the case of biomedical cloning, an embryo created for biological research) against the value of the potential of research to save lives. For research on spare IVF embryos, as well as for embryos made for biomedical research, the need to harvest stem cells at fourteen days raises the question of the moral status of the embryo. Two kinds of embryos are used for human biomedical research: spare embryos from IVF procedures, and embryos created by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). In biomedical research using SCNT, a cloned embryo is created in a petri dish for the purpose of harvesting stem cells for studies and, ultimately, if research that has recently been thwarted is successful, for use in the treatment of such diseases as Parkinsons. There is never an intention to create a human being. The embryo has not begun to develop a nervous system, the biological structure that sustains and interprets the world in order to generate, maintain and modify the very concept of human dignity. An intention argument can also be made for spare embryos created from IVF. It is not the intention of the parents that every embryo created be a child. It is the same clump of cells no matter what my personal intentions are for it. This, ultimately, is why we should set aside our personal beliefs and accept that a clump of cells is decidedly not human being. Finally, neither genes nor family environment accounts for a substantial portion of the variation in complex human behavioral traits.

It looks at how the brain figures into ethical decisions in four ways. The first part of the book looks at given what we know of the brain, what ethical decisions should we make in regards to the beginning and ending of life, such as when should we give moral status to a fetus and how does the aging brain figure into how we treat people with various forms of dementia. 303 We can show in clever studies that the brain of a six-week-old baby is conscious of complex concepts. Maybe, there are none 732 Wrapping up his chapter on genetic engineering of the brain, he writes: I am confident that we will always understand what is ultimately good for the species and what is not. I mean is he aware that a significant portion of the people on this planet live in poverty, including one sixth of the children in the United States. This sounds condescending toward people that must take anti-depressant to live a more mentally healthy life, unless he is referring to those that would take it to boost an already good mood, which I do not even know if this is possible. 1133 When we become consciously aware of making a decision, the brain has already made it happen. 1139 After stating that brains are deterministic, he writes: Personal responsibility is a public concept. Responsibility is a concept you have about other peoples actions and they about yours. Brains are determined; people (more than one human being) follow rules when they live together, and out of that interaction arises the concept of freedom of action. If it were not, there would be social chaos (not the theoretical type, which is still deterministic and may actually apply), just like in what is thought of as the physical world (everything is physical). Deterministic + Deterministic Nondeterministic 1173 In a famous experimental study of the awareness of decision he relates: The time between the onset of the readiness potential and the moment of conscious decision-making was about 300 milliseconds. If the readiness potential of the brain begins before we are aware of making the decision to move our hand, it would appear that our brains know our decisions before we become consciousness of them. Regardless, decisions are deterministic, and it is likely that decision and consciousness thereof, are separate brain events. From the title I thought it was going to talk about how the brain produced ethics. It does in part four, but the first three were on how what we may know about the brain affects ethical decisions and what might be ethical avenues of brain enhancements (e.g. genetics and drugs) These parts were good, but I felt overall the book gave no deep understanding of how the brain makes ethical decisions or guides moral behavior. This book would be good for anyone concerned with neuroethics, which tries to determine what are good moral responses to issues that involve the brain. As I said above, if you want any more but a few clues to how the brain produces ethics, and are not satisfied with the majority of what the book does cover, you may want to think twice about reading it.

Fue un libro interesante, pero creo que debió ser más grande, abarcando mas análisis de evidencias en las que se basan sus ideas.

understanding how strong beliefs about anything become established in our minds has been a goal in my scientific life." A bit later, he points out his central focus (page xviii): To me, one of the crucial lessons neuroscience teaches us is that the brain wants to believe." He touches on the development of the brain--from embryo to the aged, in Part I. Part IV is the culmination of the brief volume--with a focus on (the title of this segment) "The nature of moral beliefs and the concept of universal ethics." Not all will be convinced by his arguments, but they are thought provoking.

_The Ethical Brain_ (2005) by Michael Gazzaniga ("the father of cognitive neuroscience") Added 5/2/11. -"Michael Gazzaniga, a pioneer of cognitive neuroscience, has written a compelling, accessible, and opinionated book that illuminates the profound issues that arise when modern neuroscience intersects with the concerns of ethics, religion, and public policy." ==========================================

This book is about a guy who got a seat at President Bush's council on bioethics, and found that when topics like stem cell research came up, he couldn't force himself to shut up. In addition to stem cell research, we have genetic engineering of humans, using drugs to control your (or other people's) brain, mind-reading (summary: we're close), and so forth. There are really two kinds of topics here: 1) the ethical concerns of new technologies, especially ones related to the brain 2) the things new technologies are telling us about where our ethics come from The first part of the book is related to (1), and while interesting, it is nothing particularly new. We can already, by the way, do this for certain specific questions like, "have you ever seen this before?" I would say that US intelligence services are probably using this now, except they probably aren't, it's less difficult to just waterboard them until they say what you want them to (whether it's the truth or not). We will learn things with the mental equivalent of steroids, so that instead of persuading our brains to learn something with study and repetition and association and exercise, we can simply take drugs which put us temporarily into a "remember this, because I said so" mode, and study the things we want to know, once. What is new, is the studies that have happened in the last few years on where in the brain ethical decisions are made. Basically, you pose a tough moral question, like "would you throw a switch to cause a train to miss five innocent people, if by doing so you also would kill a sixth person who otherwise would not have been hit?" Basically, is it ok to kill one person to save others? Then you watch which parts of the brain get used in deciding that question, that don't get used in answering questions without moral dilemmas involved. We can also find that injuries to these specific parts of the brain are a good way to produce a complete psychopath. If we make moral decisions based on how we're hard-wired, for the most part (a few people may be able to override their instincts), then this means that to make any kind of moral progress as a species, we're swimming upstream against our own mental hardware.

Educated at Dartmouth College and California Institute of Technology, he is a professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he heads the new SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind.